August 24, 2022

“Growing Sideways: School Days” Exhibit Opens at PDS Sept. 7

“GROWING SIDEWAYS: SCHOOL DAYS”: Works by Catalina Schliebener will be on view September 7 through December 9 at the Anne Reid ’72 Gallery at Princeton Day School. A public reception is planned for September 15 from 5 to 7 p.m.

A new exhibit, “Growing Sideways: School Days,” featuring work by Catalina Schliebener, opens at Princeton Day School on September 7, with a planned public reception at the Anne Reid ’72 Gallery on Thursday, September 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit will be on view through December 9.

Schliebener is a Chilean-born, Brooklyn-based artist who works in varying formats that include collage, large-scale mural, and multi-media installation. The artist begins their creative process by carefully extracting imagery from cartoons, coloring books, etiquette and craft guides, and other found sources. They assemble playful and fluid strands of collage that journey along lengths of gallery wall, interacting with hand-drawn graphite lines and enlarged vinyl forms. Specific objects that have been altered or adjusted in curious and alluring ways rest in various places around the gallery – drawing elements from the walls into the third dimension.

The locker doors, classroom desks, and projectors used in this exhibition are all sourced from Princeton Day School’s campus through various decades of technological innovation and design. Each object offers the viewer an entry-point into another visual experience and into another time and place. The title of the exhibition comes from theorist Kathryn Bond Stockton’s 2009 book The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century, a study of non-traditional developmental trajectories. Inspired by Stockton’s writing, Schliebener leads the viewer through a personal and relatable journey back through the abstraction of childhood.
In her review of one of Schliebener’s first iterations of “Growing Sideways” in New York City, N.Y., curated by John Chaich, critic Emily Colucci writes, “Childhood is weird. Not exactly a deeply analytical statement, I know, but it’s true. It’s hard to put a finger on childhood – that amorphous, scattershot of memories we form mainly as adults, adding meaning to the various stages of our development.” Colucci eloquently puts her finger on the manner in which Schliebener collides elements of time, location, and identity in their artmaking.

Within the collage work on the wall, one sees a small child in early 20th century Norman Rockwell-esque attire reaching for a fragment of a face that is recognizable as Ursula the sea witch from the Disney movie The Little Mermaid. A cartoon mop of hair and crown, perhaps cut from around the face of a princess, float atop a young child’s head as he leaps down a trail of tentacles, flower pots, necklaces, ribbons and hands. This rollicking jumble offers viewers both culturally specific and ambiguous clues from which they can interpret what they wish and identify as they please.

For children of any age whose internal sense of self does not perfectly align with the majority culture or for children who may lack a mirroring of self in mainstream media, a cobbling together of identifiers may occur to match internal and external worlds. We find things we relate to everywhere and we combine them in unique, exciting and beautiful ways. Theorist Jose Esteban Munoz calls this phenomenon “disidentification” and Colucci describes this in Schliebener’s work as the making of utopian space. Indeed, the colorful, expressive, strange world here is both familiar and completely new: a place in which to imagine.

Schliebener was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1980 and received their Bachelor of Philosophy from the ARCIS University of Art and Social Sciences in Santiago de Chile. They subsequently received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the same university. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Santiago, Chile), Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (New York), Boston Center for the Arts (Boston), Centro Cultural de España (Santiago, Chile), Recoleta Cultural Center (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Center for Books Arts (New York), Catalyst Arts (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Brooklyn), Hache Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Gallery Hidden Garden (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Metropolitan Gallery (Santiago, Chile), and Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (New York), among others.

In 2017 Schliebener was selected to participate in the Queer Artist Fellowship program at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (N.Y.) and in 2018 in the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (N.Y.). They are represented by HACHE GALERÍA in Argentina.

Princeton Day School is located at 650 Great Road. Due to the possibility of changing COVID-19 protocol, exhibition reception and events will be updated at To schedule a private viewing, email